Crikey writes: Re. “Mayne: now is not the time for Gina Rinehart to be be saying ‘look at me’” (yesterday, item 3). An original version of this story stated the Good Weekend profile on Gina Rinehart was written by Janet Hawley. It was in fact written by Jane Gadzow.


Wendy Cousins writes: Re. Yesterday’s Editorial. In your editorial you wonder why Gillard’s good policies and gestures fail to gain any traction and are weighed down in trivia and debacle.

An article in the New Statesman of 23 January by Mehdi Hasan (p. 32) discusses this issue generally. While not directly discussing Australian politics it attempts to explain some of the forces at work in Conservative politics. Referring to a book by George Lakoff Don’t think of an Elephant, in which Lakoff, a linguistics professor theorises that voters make decisions based not on specific party policies but on larger metaphors or “frames”.

The right uses loaded image-laden language repetitively to exploit our unconscious minds. These conservatives set their “frames” into work over many years and have them repeated over and over, everybody, including journalists repeat them the same way until they become part of the normal language. If you attack your opponent’s “frame” the message is reinforced (Think Stop the Boats or No More taxes). The Conservatives in the UK use this method as do the Republicans in the US.

Tony Abbott has embraced the method big-time.

I think this goes a long way to explaining why Labor is where it is in the polls, despite some very good legislative changes. The message just does not get through and I can’t believe there are not umpteen PR people trying to get that message through.

The Greens:

Richard Markowski writes: Re. “Paul Barry: Greens meet Libs on donations hypocrisy” (yesterday, item 11). In commenting on the Greens accepting money from one particularly wealthy supporter while simultaneously campaigning for political donations reform, Paul Barry asks “wouldn’t that be a little hypocritical?” Err, no. While personally being an advocate of higher income tax, I do not voluntarily gift extra cash to the ATO come tax time. Does this make me a hypocrite?

There are countless other example of hypocrisy in the political realm, yes, even by the Greens. Misapplying this description in this (and similar) instances is really quite lazy.

Climate change cage match:

Nigel Brunel writes: Interesting Tamas Calderwood (yesterday, comments) — good to see you have started 2012 with the same groundhog day boring gusto we saw last year.

People like you are dangerous — why — because you claim and spout and counterclaim like you are a climatologist.

You’re not — all you do is adopt the straw man approach.

Here is what Climate Spectator said in relation to the claim there has been no warming for a decade:

“On Friday, The Wall Street Journal published a letter from ‘16 concerned scientists‘, telling the world we don’t need to worry so much about climate change. Unsurprisingly, the opinion piece has been picked up by outlets worldwide, including The Australian.

In their article the authors claim the reason for their doubt about the reality of climate change is “a collection of stubborn scientific facts”. My response below relates purely to scientific points. Let us look at the facts.

No warming for a decade

The authors open by stating, “Perhaps the most inconvenient fact is the lack of global warming for well over 10 years now”.

However, this is not the case. According to NASA/GISS, the first decade of the 21st century has been the warmest on the instrumental record. Global surface temperatures in 2010 (and similar in 2005) have been the warmest on the instrumental record. From January to October 2010, global land and ocean surface temperature were significantly higher than the 20th century average of 14.1°C (see figures 1 and 2).

Figure 1: Mean global temperatures for 2001-2011 relative to 1951-1980. NASA/GISS

It is a “straw man argument” to assume global warming is a uniform process. Natural variability induced by the ENSO cycle and the 11 years sun spot cycle, superimposed on the greenhouse warming trend, results in transient reversals of warming.

Paleo-climate studies indicate that past warming trends — such as the Younger dryas and the 8.2 kyr event — were associated with transient cold phases due to the regional effects of ice melt water, mainly in the North Atlantic.

Stephen Darragh writes: Once again I find myself marvelling at the brazen willingness of Tamas Calderwood to completely misrepresent a quoted source. The article to which he links, “Global Temperature in 2011, Trends, and Prospects” (Hansen et al), certainly does not confirm that global warming has stopped, and indeed finishes with this statement:

“We conclude that the slowdown of warming is likely to prove illusory, with more rapid warming appearing over the next few years.”

I urge anyone who might feel some sympathy for Tamas’s amazing assertions to read the scientific articles to which he points (as opposed to the unscientific nonsense written by Monckton, Plimer and co.) for themselves. In their entirety. Tamas may think that cherry picking factoids is a valid way to mount an argument but it is no substitute for properly presenting the evidence.

Peter Lunt writes: Tamas Calderwood wrote “It didn’t start warming until 1975 and it stopped in 1998, as NASA recently confirmed with its paper on the “slowdown in global warming”.

I checked the article to which Mr. Calderwood refers and, surprisingly, the Global Land-Ocean Temperature Index (over various running mean periods) and the Surface Temperature Anomalies charts all seem to show a distinct upwardly-curved trend over the longer-term. Further, in the section titled “Has Global Warming Slowed in the Past Decade?” the authors “…examine the issue of whether global warming has ‘stopped’ in the past decade or at least slowed down from the rate of the prior two decades…”.

Hansen, Ruedy, Sato and Lo provide some discussion around this question and in no way conclude that warming has “stopped”. In fact, they conclude “The 5-year (60-month) running mean global temperature hints at a slowdown in the global warming rate during the past few years.”

Oh, how I wish it were so binary.

Andrew Davison writes: Tamas Calderwood selects the decades after the 1940s to make his point. Let’s look at the bigger picture, shall we? Here is a graph of the data from the Climate Research Unit which he has so cleverly averaged in four minutes and then selectively quoted:

I’ll leave aside the irony in Tamas spending most of recent times casting aspersions on the CRU, and now using their data in preference to the other, more global datasets; at least he now concedes that “global warming started” and getting him to look at decadal averages is a step forward. But by focusing on the 1940s he hides the incline which should be obvious to everybody but himself.

Next, the NASA paper he links to clearly shows that the global warming trend has continued past 1998, contrary to his claim. I added the line showing the 1998 temperature — perhaps that was a mistake as he will now claim that global warming peaked in 2008!

His claims are, in fact, a travesty of the truth. It’s not Houston’s problem — it’s his.

Peter Fray

Get your first 12 weeks of Crikey for $12.

Without subscribers, Crikey can’t do what it does. Fortunately, our support base is growing.

Every day, Crikey aims to bring new and challenging insights into politics, business, national affairs, media and society. We lift up the rocks that other news media largely ignore. Without your support, more of those rocks – and the secrets beneath them — will remain lodged in the dirt.

Join today and get your first 12 weeks of Crikey for just $12.


Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey